Montana State Bobcat Football (copy)

Montana State defensive back Tre Webb looks to block a pass against San Diego on Sept. 18 at Bobcat Stadium.

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Repeatedly, Jeffrey Manning Jr. was told of a recruit who would be visiting campus. He never heard a name, but he assumed the potential newcomer was talented.

The Montana State free safety was at a team event when he saw Tre Webb, the Bobcats’ addition, and was surprised. Manning and Webb, the San Jose State transfer, had played youth football together in California.

“Alright, cool,” Manning thought to himself. “That’s just another weapon we have.”

Through four games, Webb has been exactly that for the Bobcats (3-1, 1-0 Big Sky) heading into their conference matchup with Northern Colorado (2-2, 1-0) at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

Though Webb was added to the team in July, he made an immediate impact in part because of his familiarity with his new teammates. In fact, Manning said Webb makes his job more simple.

“Tre is the definition of a competitor,” Manning said. “He’s going to go out there and he’s going to give it his all, 100% every play.”

Webb was an all-Mountain West honorable mention while playing for San Jose State, which won the conference championship his final season there in 2020. Webb, a grad transfer, was a three-year starting safety and is in his sixth year of college. Last season, he recorded 49 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and six pass breakups.

He was a three-star recruit out of Servite High School in Anaheim, California.

When Webb pondered changing teams, he was aiming for a Power Five program. Webb said he received an offer from Notre Dame, but “some things didn’t work out on their end and my end, and we had to go our separate ways.”

MSU began to become more of a possibility. Webb was considering the Bobcats from the beginning of his recruiting process. He knew Manning and fellow defensive back Tyrel Thomas, who also grew up in California. Webb was also familiar with MSU defensive coordinator and secondary coach Freddie Banks, who was previously a cornerbacks coach at Nevada of the Mountain West.

After a couple months at MSU, Webb believes the Bobcats could compete with FBS teams. That was proven when they almost defeated Wyoming, also of the Mountain West, to start the season. MSU has the speed, physicality and collective work ethic to measure up with those types of programs, Webb said.

After playing a couple games with Manning in the defensive backfield, Webb said he developed a chemistry with him unlike any other he’s had with a teammate. They challenge each other constantly and therefore bring the best out of each other.

Thomas showed Webb around on his initial visit. Webb said his relationship with Thomas and Manning made his decision “way easier.”

“They understood my situation and what I was looking for,” Webb said, “and it was just a great fit.”

Webb confessed he needed some time to become accustomed to a new playbook. At strong safety, he’s assigned many responsibilities. On any given play, he may drop back into coverage, line up against slot receivers or tight ends, creep closer to the line of scrimmage for run support or pressure the opposing quarterback on a blitz.

Banks said Webb is fun to coach, partly because of his positive energy and partly because he’s “always working.” Banks feels his move to Bozeman was made easier because of that.

Webb wasn’t listed on MSU’s depth chart to begin fall camp in August. Although he was an FBS transfer, it didn’t mean he deserved a role.

“I wanted to earn the respect of my teammates mostly,” Webb said. “I just didn’t want to feel like I was coming in and being a prima donna asking for the starting spot. I wanted to show them that I was willing to work for it … and show my talents within the scheme of the defense and show that what they were getting was only going to add to the talent that we had.”

MSU Football Camp (copy)

Montana State defensive back Tre Webb runs through drills during camp Aug. 11 at Bobcat Stadium.

Webb claimed he didn’t miss a tackle during fall camp. This was a skill he particularly honed early in his collegiate career. At MSU, he’s hoping to add more forced fumbles and interceptions.

“I take the utmost pride in securing all my tackles that come my way,” Webb said. “I know that some of these teams are game planning me and they don’t want me to get to the ball, so I have to take it upon myself to get after the ball no matter what.”

As Thomas has missed time due to a knee surgery, Webb was given the starting nod at strong safety. He’s among the team’s leading tacklers with 17 to go with 1.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup.

“Definitely just trying to stay disciplined,” Webb said. “And just being physically imposing on the opposing team. … I definitely think we do a great job of flying around and just playing for each other, playing fast and physical.”

At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, Banks noted the Bobcats rely on Webb for his sound tackling with a scheme that often features five defensive backs. Some strong safeties Banks has coached in his career don’t deal with the demands Webb does.

Thanks to his diligent studying, Banks feels Webb plays as if he’s been with the team for a long time.

“He can do it all,” Banks said. “So we ask him to do it all.”

Webb is grateful for the added responsibilities. With hopes of playing professionally, he believes it shows he has a versatile skill set.

“You could put me anywhere,” he said, “and I could thrive.”

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Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

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